OBSSR Working Groups Featured at NIH Council of Councils

February 3, 2021

The NIH Council of Councils met virtually on January 29 with the behavioral and social sciences prominent on the agenda. A recording of the meeting is available on NIH Video Cast.

The Council is made up of 27 members, selected from NIH Institutes and Centers (IC) Advisory Councils, representatives nominated by the Office of the Director program offices, and broad lay representation. The purpose of the Council is to advise the NIH Director on matters related to the policies and activities of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI) and trans-NIH initiatives.

The Council received an update on the Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Working Group (bBSSR) co-chaired by William T. Riley, director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research (OBSSR) and Graham A. Colditz, Washington University. Approved in May 2020, the working group includes former FABBS board member, Jeffrey M. Zacks, Washington University, and M. Lynne Cooper, recently elected to the American Psychological Association board. A key question for the group is if funding for the behavioral and social sciences is keeping pace with need and, when it is not, how to prioritize funding. The presentation included an analysis of the current bBSSR grant portfolio. Next steps for the group are to compare their priorities with those identified by NIH, synthesize findings, and report back to Council in May 2021.

The OBSSR Director and Deputy Director proposed a second working group to look at the integration of the benefits from behavioral research to health at NIH, created in response to a request from Congress. (Presentation and Background). Paul Kenny, Council of Councils member, and Christine Hunter, OBSSR, will co-chair the panel to complete an assessment providing recommendations on how to better integrate and realize the benefits of behavioral research to overall health at NIH.

OBSSR also presented on two concept clearances — one to reissue short courses on innovative methodologies and approaches in the behavioral and social sciences (Presentation and Background), and another on firearm injury and mortality prevention research. (Presentation and Background).